The two most inspiring people on Flickr are really Matt Smillie and Cherry Vega. During a trip to Japan in 2004, Matt shot this picture of a tattooed woman taking a picture of some dancers and uploaded it to Flickr. A friend of the woman in the photo, Cherry Vega, recognized the tattoo and told her about the photo. Cherry left a comment on the image, the photographer got in touch, traveled the length of Britain to meet and — as far as we know – they’ve been together ever since.
They’re unusual. Flickr doesn’t usually inspire people to go out and fall in love — although it would be nice if it did. It’s much better at inspiring us to go out and become better photographers.
Or rather, the people on Flickr inspire us to become better photographers because that’s what Flickr’s really all about: looking at great images, chatting to fantastic photographers and using their examples and their advice to get better and better every day.
Here are five of the most inspiring people on Flickr.
Photography: Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir
Icelandic photographer Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir is, of course, a Flickr icon. Her self-portraits have won her stacks of fans who follow her website and her blog. Her photos have grabbed the attention of picture thieves who swiped her images and sold them for profit. But most inspiringly, her images have also landed her a prestigious shoot for Toyota (who thought her “multiplicity” series matched the twin power sources of the Hybrid) and the chance of a whole new career as a professional photographer.
Not bad for someone who is still an art student and originally used Flickr as a place to show her sketches.
Rebekka’s pictures are an inspiration for anyone who wants to take beautiful, unique and creative images, but also for anyone who hopes to find success through Flickr.
So who inspires Rebekka?
“Three people come to mind right away,” Rebekka told us. “Dr Joanne was the first self-portrait artist that seriously inspired me to work harder and put more effort and thought into my self-portraiture… I had of course previously been inspired by a number of well-known artists, Cindy Sherman and Francesca Woodman for instance, but I remember seeing Joanne’s work inspired me all over again.
“Notraces’ long exposure photography inspired me to try my hand at that, and continue to work on it until I started getting more than just mediocre results. “
And last but not least, Antimethod (Cole Rise) was probably the first person on Flickr whose work left me speechless. Opened my eyes to a lot of things, and I admire him greatly.”
Photography: David Hobby
David Hobby is better known by his online moniker, Strobist. His blog is one of the most popular — and for anyone using artificial lighting, one of the most useful — photography sites on the Web. His Flickr group though, has almost 20,000 members, helping both pros and amateurs get to grips with innovative lighting techniques.
As for the people David has inspired, here are the words of just one photographer who responded to a researcher’s question about the effect of Strobist:
“I never used a flash until January of this year (2007) when I discovered Strobist. In march I quit my job as a car designer and went freelance. I just did a job yesterday for $2,500 with only two SB600’s. That’s more than my monthly living expenses. In a day!”
Photography: David Bean
David Hobby is an inspiration because he is able to take the advice he turns out on his blog and turn it into the sort of collaborative affair that can only happen on a Flickr group. David Bean, the founder of Pro Corner, runs a Flickr group that’s a lot smaller but just as important at handing out advice, helping amateurs step up and professionals stride ahead.
“Pro Corner takes up a few hours a month,” David told us. “I would dedicate more but as a full-time photographer who shoots and travels all the time, it’s hard to keep up. I made two people moderators so they could help police the group. They’ve done a great job with it.”
Photography: John Watson
All of the people we’ve mentioned so far are known for their photography or for the advice they give about photography — or both. John Watson, who uses the name FD on Flickr, is famous for his huge range of Flickr tools. From magazine covers and galleries to jigsaws and a Warholizer, John has almost 40 ways to help people enhance their photos… and according to his site, they can be used on almost 1.5 million photos a month.
“It started out very small,” John explained. “Folks wanted to create badges but most of them didn’t have Photoshop or know how to use it well enough to make one. So I created the Badge maker toy. It turned out to be a huge success and the rest is history.
The bottom line is that it’s a project that is a great deal of fun to work on and I’m immensely grateful that I can make something that brings a little happiness to so many people.”
Photography: Julie Kertesz
French photographer Julie Kertesz might not be as well known as Rebekka or Strobist, but it’s her attitude that we like. Julie was already over 70 when she discovered blogging and Flickr which was then still in Beta. In addition to her blog called “Il ya de la vie après 70 ans” (“There is life after 70”), she also created groups called “Never too old (to enjoy life),” “Strangers no more” and “People Reading.” It’s her Afterclass learning group though that takes up most of her time.
“[W]e learn every month another theme about photography, created [and] organized by me,” Julie said. “[It’s] now in its nineteenth month and [has] about 2,100 members… some contributing to the discussions, every month [with] another leader.”
Who inspired your photography? Tell us here.